Will China Crumble?

Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In

A man walks in an area of Shanghai where old residential buildings are being demolished to make room for new skyscrapers, January 20, 2014. Aly Song / Reuters

We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of articles on the future of the Chinese regime. Those articles sparked a heated debate, so we decided to ask a broad pool of experts to state whether they agree or disagree with the following statement and to rate their confidence level about that answer:

The current Chinese regime will not survive the next decade without major reform.


Full Responses:

BabonesSALVATORE BABONES is Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, in Australia.
Strongly Disagree, Confidence level 10 Unfortunately, repressive regimes are very stable. It is reform that creates uncertainty.

YUN-HAN CHU is Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica and Professor of Political Science at National Taiwan University.
Disagree, Confidence level 9 The regime is likely to carve out its own path to a non-Western model of maintaining political legitimacy and governability.

WARREN I. COHEN is Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus at UMBC.
Disagree, Confidence level 6 I have listened to friends—who know more about internal Chinese affairs than I do—predict the fall of the government or its need to reform or fall for many years, and nothing much has happened. I don't expect any radical change over the next decade, but can hardly predict with confidence.

LARRY DIAMOND is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.
Agree, Confidence level 7 I am not sure that failure will come exactly within the next ten years, but without major political reform, Chinese communist rule is doomed. There will be a crisis and it will collapse, if not within ten years, then very probably within 15.

ELIZABETH C. ECONOMY is C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Disagree, Confidence level 7 One has to ask: What constitutes major reform? In some respects, the current anti-corruption

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